{What I Learned…} How to Maximize A Location

After our “just for fun” styled shoot, I wanted to take some portrait photos of my lovely models. But we had to do it quickly since the girls had other commitments to get to that day.  I wanted to make each girl look her absolute best, but with no time to search for different settings, I had to maximize one location to accomodate all three looks. I decided on the abandoned house that sat right on the lake property for our portraits. The house was in a nice shaded area making it ideal for portraits. I’ve learned that as long as there’s beautiful natural light – with a little creativity – any location can make the perfect backdrop.  Here’s how I made it work: 

• Look for color: Since Selvete has long, gorgeous brown hair, I wanted to set her against a light background so she would stand out.  However, she was also wearing a white polka dot sundress, so a plain white background would not work either. The green of the leaves in this part of the house provided a nice dash of color to the photo and made her dress pop against an otherwise muted background. 

If it’s not working, just move I originally started taking pictures of Ashley where I took Selvete’s photos, but I found the background to be too busy against her printed top and I thought the white walls completely washed out her fair skin and golden locks.  So I brought her around to the front of the house to take pictures on the porch. Now she’s slightly set a part for the white walls and the dark contrast of the leaves in the background brings the focus back to my subject. But you don’t always need to completely change locations in order to make it work, often a step to the left/right/front/back can make all the difference in the world.

Remove distractions (or remove youself from them): Charlotte’s outfit was the boldest of the three, so I wanted to make sure that her red top and printed skirt did not clash with the rest of the background. I looked for the spot with the least amount of distractions – the tool shed right next to the house.  This backdrop had very little green and the mostly white background helped her bold and colorful outfit shine without having to compete for attention.  

Location isn’t everything:  Sometime the perfect backdrop is not nearly as important as the people you share it with. If you focus on capturing genuine smiles, emotions and connections, you’re bound to get a picture perfect moment each and every time!

*The online community has been a wonderful resource in my photography education, so in the spirit of sharing, I started the  {What I Learned…} series as a way of paying it forward to others that are looking to learn too . This does not make me an expert on the subject, just another person looking to push my knowledge and skills to the next level. I hope that my “non-photography” friends will find the content just as helpful for improving their picture-taking skills too.

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September 7, 2011 - 12:07 am

Life with Kaishon - Maddy! I love this post. You are just full of good information. Brilliant!
The girls are very beautiful.
And so are you.
Pretty as a picture!

September 7, 2011 - 6:15 am

Rosie - This. Is. AMAZING. You’ve made it all so clear and concise, everything really makes sense. Thanks a lot!

September 7, 2011 - 7:28 am

Charlie - I love how you are so organized that even your mad crazy creative skills you can put into some logical order! Me and girls voted and its unanimous! we love love love the portraits! But i love the photographer more! MUah!

September 7, 2011 - 8:04 am

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - I love you too, Charlie!! Thanks for helping out so much with this session. You and the girls did a fantastic job! XO

September 7, 2011 - 9:01 am

Cafe Fashionista - What a gorgeous collection of photographs, Maddy – and what incredible tips! I always have the hardest time situating myself in photographs because, like Selvete, I have darkish hair and oftentimes wear light colors. I will definitely remember these tips during my next photo op! :)

September 7, 2011 - 9:14 am

Buckeroomama - Maddy, you are such a sweetheart for sharing your knowledge, for paying it forward.

Is Charlotte your sister? You two look alike… very pretty! So are the other girls, too. Lovely portraits, Maddy. =)

September 7, 2011 - 9:29 am

Piper - You seriously have mad skills! These shots are some of my faves (including the picnic shoot!) I definitely need to find interesting backdrops like that – thanks for the pointers :)

September 7, 2011 - 9:39 am

Elle sees - For someone who takes zero pics because my photography is so awful, I am loving these tips!

September 7, 2011 - 10:12 am

Amy - Thanks for the tips–and love the photos (which is pretty much a given, but whatever … )

September 7, 2011 - 10:32 am

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - Yes! Charlotte is my “kid” sister :)

September 7, 2011 - 2:59 pm

camille - great tips for photographies! i’ll keep that in mind during my next photographic adventures!
your sister looks a lot like you!

September 7, 2011 - 4:00 pm

Tiera - Such good tips, thanks girl!

September 7, 2011 - 4:19 pm

Camila Faria - Maddy, your tips are the best! You’re my photography muse! ♥
And I agree that with beautiful natural light we can’t go wrong.

September 7, 2011 - 4:30 pm

Sabine - Beautiful pictures, Maddy! I love your sharing of ‘what I’ve learned’… So much thought and consideration. I feel my shoots ‘just happen’, but perhaps I need to be a bit more aware of my decisions.

September 7, 2011 - 10:15 pm

Kristin - It’s amazing how flattering the right natural light is!

September 7, 2011 - 10:58 pm

katrina - oh maddy, these photos are simply BEAUTIFUL.

thanks so much for sharing your smart tips!

September 7, 2011 - 11:15 pm

Maegan - Beautiful photos!! And I appreciate the tips – am going to read all of your “what I learned” since I’m still trying to figure out how to even use my camera.

I love the last pic of you 4, nice to see you in the pictures too pretty girl!!

September 8, 2011 - 6:30 am

Leia - Your tips are fantastic! And your pictures are incredible, as usual. All the girls look amazing :)

September 8, 2011 - 7:50 am

Christina Lee - This was GREAT!!! Coming here brightens my day–love looking at what you’ve got cooking!

September 8, 2011 - 9:26 am

Mindy - I enjoy reading your tips…thanks for sharing them! I learn something new on every shoot I do – whether its something technical with the camera, or something to do with the subject I’m shooting (ie an independent little two year old who isnt cooperating…) so, I love reading what other photographers learned, too!
lovely, lovely shots…are you ready for the W family’s next trip to NYC? :)

September 8, 2011 - 10:21 am

Sarah - Dodeline Design - This is a great post with great tips Maddy!

September 8, 2011 - 10:33 am

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - Definitely!! :)

September 8, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Stephanie - Thanks for all of your great photo tips Maddy!! They are extremely helpful and I always enjoy learning form your experiences.

Eternally yours,

September 9, 2011 - 7:58 am

Audrey Allure - These are really great tips! I didn’t even think about color in the background.

September 9, 2011 - 12:03 pm

Gloria - I love learning about your thought processes behind your gorgeous photos :-) That last one is just begging to be framed – too cute!

September 10, 2011 - 1:05 pm

Angelia Sims - Beautiful! Beautiful! That old house was PERFECT! Love that you shared your wonderous tips. You guys are just gorgeous.

September 10, 2011 - 5:03 pm

dana - as always, I have learned alot from you yet again :)

September 12, 2011 - 5:35 pm

The Guilty Hyena - Something as logical as this had never occurred to me! I’m gonna take note of these tips for future reference. The pop of color in these photos are radiating.

September 13, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Nadette - Oh Maddy, you are your friends are so fabulous. Now that I officially know how to use my camera in manual, I can really appreciate these tips :)

September 19, 2011 - 10:48 am

viv {the eclectic life} - Maddy! Your new site is so bright and gorgeous and I love that your photos are always as radiant as you are! Great post on how to get the most out of a location to ensure your client looks great and has a great photo as a result. That last photo is just beautiful!

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